A little few weeks ago, I wrote about how much I enjoy (re-)reading Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books. When I asked for recommendations for which one to read, or in this case, listen to, next, Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings suggested Nemesis, because it is her favorite. Well, it is now my favorite as well. In 4:50 to Paddington, we had a witness, but no body, no suspect, and no reason. In Nemesis, we have nothing. How ingenious is that?
Unexpectedly, Miss Marple receives a letter from the lawyers of the recently deceased Mr. Rafiel, a rich businessman she met during a holiday in the West Indies. Mr. Rafiel has bequeathed a large amount of money to Miss Marple, if she can solve a crime within the next year. He doesn’t tell her what crime he is talking about, when this crime took place, or who the victim is. Miss Marple only deduces that it must involve a murder because Mr. Rafiel had been impressed by her wit and her propensity to solve murders when they first became acquainted. Mr. Rafiel has set it up so that Miss Marple takes a bus tour of Famous Houses and Gardens. He has even arranged, somehow, to have a few other people on the bus who were somehow connected to him in the past. It seems that every time Miss Marple gets stuck in trying to figure out what she is supposed to do, someone is sent along to help her out. But at the same time, there are several incidents that are apparently trying to stop Miss Marple. So are the people on the bus her friends or her foes? Or both?
After only a few days on the bus, she is invited to stay at the house of three sisters, and it is here that the pieces of the mystery fall into place. Mr. Rafiel’s son, who had been a disappointment to his overachieving father, used to be engaged to a young woman who had stayed with these three sisters. The woman disappeared, and when her body was found, the son was convicted of her murder. I won’t tell you any more details, but needless to say that if all were as it should be with this murder conviction, Miss Marple would not have been hired.
I don’t think this particular mystery is for everyone. There is not much action, but a lot of internal dialogue and quiet discussions instead. Some of the views the older characters have of the younger ones, especially when it comes to the behavior of young women, might be problematic for some readers today. I didn’t have a problem with that; I appreciated getting to know Miss Marple and her inner workings a little better. And I appreciated that she was able to see past behavior she might not agree with in order not to judge people prematurely. She is such a wonderful “people reader,” and in this book, she’s in high form. So Nemesis gets high marks from me.
Now, which one to listen to next? A Caribbean Mystery would show me how Mr. Rafiel and Miss Marple first meet, and I would stick with Emily Fox as narrator. But A Pocket Full of Rye has gotten slightly higher marks and would bring back Richard Grant, my favorite narrator. Or should I pick a different book entirely? What do you think?
That reminds me, I promised a recipe for my favorite cookie when I last asked for recommendations. Here’s my Thank You: click for the recipe. Full credit for it goes to America’s Test Kitchen.